Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
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Pierce only wants a shot, a real shot, and not just the excuses he’s been handed his whole life. Harmony wants to escape her future, the future she fears will be chosen for her. After their chance meeting, they might get exactly what they want.
Since taking over the US government years earlier, the Omni party has created a perfect existence. From consorts to job assignments, every choice, every facet of life is under their control. Each citizen has a specific role in one of the four strata. Seventeen-year-old Pierce is a Drudge, the lowest social stratum in society. For over two years, he’s hoped—prayed—that his upcoming aptitude test will finally free him from his virtual slavery and give him a chance at a better existence. When he rescues Harmony, an Artist and member of the most successful stratum, at a publicity event for her latest movie, his life takes an unbelievable twist. With his gallant act and good looks, he becomes a media sensation. Every stratum in society seeks his membership for their publicity, but as he becomes closer to Harmony, Pierce realizes what fame in the all-seeing eye of Omni is truly like. His choices will not only affect him but Harmony as well. The life Pierce thought he wanted may not be worth the cost to either of them. Omni is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
Interview with Andrea Murray, author of the YA dystopia Omni
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Omni is a retelling of the ancient story of Paris and Helen. Nearly all of the characters were created from one of the original characters. I attempted to give the characters names that begin with the same letter as their namesakes as well as making those names words which denote character traits. For example, Pierce, an orphan like Paris, is a Drudge. As a Drudge, he’s the lowest member of the Omni society, yet he doesn’t let that limit him. Instead, he manages to “pierce” through those restrictions and gain the attention of important members of society
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I’ve been a teacher for seventeen years, and many years ago, I taught seventh grade language arts. As part of that curriculum, we completed a large unit on Greek and Roman mythology. I was fortunate enough to have my nephew in one of those classes. He developed an appreciation for all those great old stories, and every time a new mythology movie comes out , he calls me for confirmation that the story is accurate or to tell me whether it’s worth watching. He inspired the use of the story.
The society, Omni, came from my classroom. Each week, we study Greek and Latin root words. One of those a couple of years ago was “omni,” which means “all.” While discussing the word , the idea of a society completely controlled by the government came to me. I created the society, in part, from our own society, where entertainers like sports heroes and film stars make unfathomable amounts of money while many families can’t even pay their utilities.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
I hope readers will see that Omni is about integrity and hope. Pierce doesn’t settle for what society has dealt him; he has dreams of a better life, maybe a better world, where class lines don’t hold citizens back. However, he’s also learned to work within those constraints without compromising himself.
How long did it take to write the book?
It took about three months from beginning through beta reading. The actual writing took about half that. The story came easily. It’s hard to improve on Homer! His story has stood the test of time, and I didn’t want to change it greatly.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
My favorite was definitely Pierce. He is loyal, courageous, and caring–what more could you want?
A close second would be the goddess Hera (Honor), Athena (Acumen), and Aphrodite (Adora). I loved creating those scenes in which they interact with Pierce. It was so fun to picture a human embodiment of those three and plunk them in my futuristic society.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I created many outlines. I’m a list maker at heart. I love to see a long list dwindle down because it means I’ve accomplished some goals (even if it’s just doing the laundry). I also made lists of all the major events in the original story that I wanted to be sure to emulate and tried to include as much as possible in the novel.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I would probably spend more time with Harmony, get to know her better and fluff her up.
How did you come up with the cover?
I didn’t want a “girly” cover. Teenage boys won’t read a novel if it looks too romantic, so I didn’t want something with a couple on the cover. I wanted to show how Pierce breaks through the barriers in the society. So, I contacted Marija Vilotijevic at Expert Subjects.com. I had seen her work on the cover of a novel I was reviewing, and I thought it was really beautiful. I told her my ideas, and she made them even better.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure I want to right now! LOL! Like most writers, I’ve always written stories, but I decided to write my first novel, Vivid, after the death of my brother-in-law, who was killed in a hunting accident at a young age. He had a brand-new baby and a bright future, and it was just so tragic. I knew it was time to stop making excuses, and that’s when I began tossing around the idea. I didn’t actually commit until a bit later after I had a particularly spunky group of students (mostly girls) in one of my afternoon classes. I created Vivian, the protagonist in Vivid, in honor of those girls.
What are you favorite books and authors?
I focused on Victorian British literature for my MA, so some of my favs are Romantic or Victorian. I love Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice; however, I like many modern authors as well. I enjoy Kresley Cole and Simone Elkeles as well as Michael Harmon.
What are you working on next?
I am working on the sequel to Omni. I’ve started the outlining, but I want to do a little more digging before I really jump into it.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t write that first sentence! Just kidding although sometimes I feel that way. Once you begin, it’s like an addiction but a good one. Keep working. Set up a time daily to work, and keep that time no matter what’s happening.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
I constantly face this problem. I have two children, Olivia and Wyatt, and they are really great about giving me time to work. I usually do my writing/reviewing in the EARLY morning hours, like 4-6 am, before they get up, though. It’s a struggle to drag myself up some mornings, but it centers me and helps me remember there’s still a part in there that’s me, not the teacher, the wife, or the mom, just me.
Two winners will receive an ebook copy of Omni by Andrea Murray. Contest ends 12/6/2013. Prize provided by author Andrea Murray. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim the prize.